The Department For International Development (DFID) defines itself as “the part of the UK Government that manages Britain’s aid to poor countries and works to get rid of extreme poverty.” DFID exists outside the framework of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and has its own foreign policy in the areas where it operates, which include more than 100 countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The large sums which it distributes give DFID significant influence in these regions.
DFID distributes money in three ways: through multilateral organizations such as the European Union and the World Bank; bilaterally to countries via Country Assistance Plans (CAPs); and through agreements made directly with non-governmental organizations (NGOs). For United Kingdom NGOs, this direct assistance mainly takes the form of long-term Partnership Programme Agreements (PPAs).
DFID maintains financially significant PPAs with a number of British NGOs that operate in the Middle East, including Christian Aid, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), and Oxfam. These PPAs last an average of 3 to 5 years apiece, and their funding is unrestricted, which means that DFID does not require the partners to account for how they spend or allocate the money it gives to them.
Although DFID claims that these PPAs are apolitical initiatives to promote development and peace, several of its partner organizations are overtly hostile to Israeli efforts to combat Palestinian terrorism in the Middle East. For example, Christian Aid funnels much of its DFID-derived funding to radical Palestinian and anti-Israel NGOs such as Adalah, LAW, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, Sabeel, and the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees. In 2005 DFID agreed to a new PPA with Christian Aid for six years, again with no restrictions on how the money would be spent. The Department has also renewed and increased its funding commitment with Oxfam, an NGO with a history of political attacks on Israel, and a supporter of extremist Palestinian NGOs such as Badil.
DFID’s funding of ODI, a supposedly “independent think tank on humanitarian and development policy,” is a further example of a humanitarian remit being used instead to make focused attacks against Israel. ODI runs the Humanitarian Practice Network (HPN), which provides a platform for an extreme pro-Palestinian position in the reports it promotes on its website. For example, one report (“Why humanitarian assistance is not a long-term solution in the OPT”) completely ignores the issue of Palestinian terrorism, claims that the Israeli security barrier is “contrary to international humanitarian law,” and that Israel “provoked the general collapse of the Palestinian economy.” Another article, titled “Mental Health Needs in Palestine,” blames Israel for nearly all emotional and psychological problems in the territories. It asserts that “[a]s men lose faith and confidence in the face of their traumatic experiences, women often bear the brunt in physical abuse,” and laments that “husbands are often absent, whether for work in Israel, in Israeli detention or dead, or suffering from the effects of trauma.” The article concludes that in order “to ease the environmental factors that contribute to mental problems,” Israel must “end the occupation.”
DFID also funds Palestinian NGOs directly though its “Country Assistance Plan.” The Department’s total funding commitment to the Palestinians was raised from $47 million to $75 million in 2005 – 2006, due to what it called “the increasing poverty existent within Palestinian Society.” Recent beneficiaries of DFID funding include the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees and the Palestinian Negotiation Support Unit. The latter was instrumental in bringing the issue of the Israeli security barrier to the International Court of Justice at The Hague and is an integral part of Palestinian anti-Israel propaganda.
This profile is adapted, with permission, from NGO Monitor.